New research from the University of Georgia suggests that neutering procedures could add to the length of a dog’s life and alter the risk of specific causes of death.
Looking at a sample of 40,139 death records from the Veterinary Medical Database from 1984-2004, researchers determined the average age at death for intact dogs—dogs that had not been spayed or neutered—was 7.9 years versus 9.4 years for sterilized dogs.
These figures may seem low considering how many pets live much longer, but the researchers noted that the life spans would be lower than those seen more widely because their sample was taken from dogs seen at teaching hospitals (so other things would have been going on and the study population would have had more sick animals).
The researchers stand behind their results – that the difference between neutered and intact is real.
Dr. Kate Creevy, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “The question that raises is why would you die younger if you have offspring?”
For the first time, researchers have been able to measure costs of reproduction in terms of the actual causes of death, finding that the causes of death differed between sterilized and intact dogs. Dogs who had undergone a gonadectomy (a spay or castration) were more likely to die from cancer or autoimmune diseases. Those in the sample who still had functional reproduction systems at death were more likely to die from infectious disease and trauma.
“Intact dogs are still dying from cancer; it is just a more common cause of death for those that are sterilized,” said Jessica Hoffman, a UGA doctoral candidate in the Franklin College of Arts of Sciences who co-authored the study.
Some of the reproductive hormones, particularly progesterone and testosterone, she said, could suppress the immune system, explaining why there is an increased risk of infection among dogs that have been sterilized.
The full journal article, published in PLoS One, can be viewed here.
The animal welfare sector is comprised of many volunteer organisations. One special one working in the Oregon and Washington area is Fences for Fido.
This volunteer effort has been working since 2009 to build fences for dogs so they can be released from their chains. Chained dogs rarely have the quality of life of other pets and are vulnerable to aggression from other dogs who are able to roam into their territory and take advantage of the dog’s restrictions. Studies show that dogs who are chained can respond in one of two ways: they become aggressive or they become withdrawn and unresponsive.
More importantly, dogs who are chained are unlikely to have the same bonds and stable relationship with their owners/family. Many are isolated and live a lonely existence and suffer from neglect.
Without prejudice, Fences for Fido assists these dog owners by building fenced sections on weekends. Materials and time are all donated and there is also support for neutering/spaying and veterinary care when needed. The group works to educate families about dog care during the extreme seasons of summer and winter.
This group also follows up with families that have received its assistance twice each year to ensure that the dogs remain unchained and in good condition.
Almost 300 dogs have been helped by Fences for Fido so far.
That’s a special group!
Here’s a video of their first-ever fence building project – for Chopper – in 2009:
Beyonce was born on 8 March 2012 to Casey, a pregnant dog that was scheduled to be euthanised. She claimed the title of the World’s Smallest Puppy because she could fit into a teaspoon! She wasn’t expected to survive but proved everyone wrong.
Beyonce was saved because of the efforts of The Grace Foundation of Northern California, an animal rescue and rehabilitation facility. Her story was picked up widely in media outlets including CBS, The Washington Post, the Associated Press and Reuters. Now The Grace Foundation is using Beyonce’s celebrity status in a new fundraising campaign for Mother’s Day.
Named the I’m a Survivor Fund (after the Beyonce song), funds will be used to save healthy mums and their puppies. Many of these dogs are euthanised in shelters across California and the wider United States (3.4 million in total each year) because of a lack of facilities and adoptive families.